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COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands to those 50 years old, older on Tuesday

New York State is once again expanding its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, and pharmacies are now able to vaccinate a new group of eligible vaccine recipients.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — "The production is ramping up, we've spent so many months not having enough over the next few weeks you're going to see the production of the vaccine ramp up," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Numbers from the state's COVID-19 vaccine tracker definitely show the vaccine distribution is rising – from roughly 622,000 doses at this time a month ago, to 1.2 million this week.

Locally, some county health leaders tell us they've noticed an increase.

"We have been getting an increase. The past couple of weeks have been flat, but we did get an increase from where we were maybe a few weeks ago," said Dan Stapleton, Niagara County's public health director. 

Niagara County expects to receive 1,600 first doses this week, up from 800 first doses several weeks ago.

Appointments will go online Tuesday around noon.

In Erie County, the vaccine distribution has dropped in recent weeks – from roughly 7,200 doses the first week of March to at least 4,300 this week.

With vaccine distribution still widely varied, the state is pushing for health care providers to partner with houses of worship to vaccinate those who are eligible and particularly get into underserved communities.

"Invite people into the house of worship to receive their vaccine it will create a network all across the state using those facilities and it will also bring trust," Cuomo said.

Starting Monday, pharmacies can vaccinate people who have underlying health issues that are 16 years old and older. 

If you're between the ages of 50 and 59 you are eligible for the vaccine starting Tuesday at 8 a.m. You can check for appointments on the state's 'Am I Eligible' website.

CVS says it has seen a steady increase in vaccine appointments.

Wegmans says the company is excited to see eligibility expand and that the company is ready to vaccinate more people.

Tops says it has not seen a jump in appointments being made and that vaccine allocation has been steady.